Monday, April 22, 2024
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‘Let your yes be yes …’

A traditional reading for Christmas Day is taken from the first chapter of St John’s gospel: “The Word became flesh …” We might think on it this way. A word becomes flesh when we really mean it and put it into practice. A word or value becomes flesh when it aligns with the life of a person or community.

This is something we intuit to be true, something we understand. It’s also something we can do. We can try to be present in the words we speak and write. We can try to be consistent with respect to the values we profess.

St James, repeating a teaching of Jesus, puts it simply: “Let your yes be yes, and your no, no.” We might develop this a little: Let your greeting be a warm greeting, let your sorry be a heartfelt sorry, let your goodbye be goodbye, and so on. It may not seem especially spiritual, even recalling the word goodbye is a contraction of “God be with you”. The spiritual, however, has to do with integrity – with a coming to our senses, with a coming home to ourselves.

A traditional term for this is Incarnation, which holds together what is ever at risk of pulling apart: faith and good works, spirit and matter, grace and nature, divinity and humanity. Christianity, at its best, affirms relationship, non-duality, unity in diversity.

Christians of many denominations light purple and pink Advent candles in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The candles present four possibilities: hope, peace, joy, love. In the flesh, we see how these ideals are lived out. We ask: How does Jesus practise hope? How does Jesus enact peace? How does Jesus en-joy life with others in the world? How is the giving and receiving of love made possible in the conduct of Jesus and those who gather in his name?

The good news is the invitation to live out the wonder of a word that addresses us … the wonder of a word that encourages us to become more humane, more sensitive to the pain of others, in tune with creative and healing forces, at ease with difference, open to joy and laughter, focused on what can be done to lift up the downtrodden, to share resources … to transform hate (and everything that pulls us apart) into love.

According to St Luke’s gospel, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the model for all the saints. Mary says yes to hope, peace, joy and love. Mary says yes to God.

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